Great British Beer Festival 2014

gbbfFancy a soured, single hopped wheat beer or a beer ‘dry hopped’ with cardamom or a hoppy saison with elderflowers or an 11% tarry stout or a nice uncomplicated Berliner Weisse or a pale, sour ale with mesquite smoke that tastes of bacon? All these innovative beers can be found at the Great British Beer Festival…..on the overseas bars. Oh, what a shame, because this type of beer is made in the UK too! But the British beer chosen by CAMRA for the exhibition is with occasional notable exceptions, extremely mainstream.

More to come…

Ealing, Oxted and Wandsworth Beer Festivals

The last three beer festivals I’ve attended are Ealing, Oxted and Wandsworth Common/LBA.

Compare and contrast as my school exams always used to say. Beer festivals, tap takeovers, meet the brewers, there are so many events, which do you choose? In my fair handed, even way, I’d like to say they all have merit, it depends what you like.   Continue reading

DS of Chelmsford

June (bonkers) and July (sensible) both saw published letters from DS of Chelmsford. But there is a lot more to the man than his ability to get letters published in What’s Brewing.

If you like reading about “craft beer….bizarre and unpalatable to all but the most deluded and culturally-alienated drinker”, “ridiculous hop levels, often accompanied by outrageous alcoholic potency”, and comparing aspirations of craft beers to the Pope, the Queen and Gay Pride marches then here is a stonking good read. Turn to page 12. Do you think they put an ad for a beer festival with live music next to his piece just out of devilry?

For the record, I too was at Craft Beer Rising. It was hipsterish, music was loud in places but some of the beer was astonishingly good. Lactic Armageddon from Sharp’s living up to it’s name admirably. Not cheap but a must on the beer calendar.



London Brewers’ Market at Old Spitalfields Market

London Brewers MarketIt’s a hybrid of a beer festival and market, and jolly good too. Old Spitalfields Market is one a of a zillion cool venues around London now and the Brewers’ Market is held in conjunction with the Independent Label Market. Music and beer, you won’t find DS of Chelmsford here.

You get all sorts here from the ‘have you got anything similar to Stella Artois?’ types (correct answer, ‘no, it’s all much better than that’) through ink sleeved Hackney hipsters to professional beer geeks (no, not me). It was also an event for my Meet-up chums of the Craft Beer Collective.

There was a nice selection of beer from some of London’s finest but the best thing about this event is the stalls are manned by the brewers so you can have a pleasant chat with them over a beer – and then buy more to take home. What’s not to like? (Ed: Overused phrase?).

Favourite beers? You won’t normally see much about lager on these pages so let’s startunfiltered_vienna_lager off with Signature Brew’s Unfiltered Vienna Lager. Vienna lagers have more malt character and this one is also unfiltered. Most intriguingly there is a hint of smoke, which I always loveWe are talking flavour. This is still a beautiful refreshing drink but not bland, fizzy and tasteless. Signature Brew’s schtick is beer/music collaborations (I don’t understand them, but hey ho, if the beer is good…) and so you will see something remarkably similar under the Doctor’s Orders label too.

crate-logo-largeBest beer on show (imho, natch) was Crate Brewery’s collaboration with the Norwegians called Imperial Stout vs Nøgne Ø. 8.3% of thick, heavy treacle, roasty, toasty dreaminess as my companion put it. “Apart from pizza the best thing Crate have been involved with” was another comment.

Also on show and selling well were the Beavertown cans, Hop Stuff’s new Arsenal Pale Ale, new By The Horns offerings such as Bastard Brag and Sour to the People and Windsor & Eton’s Republika lager. There, two mentions of lager in one piece.

Jaded with ordinary beer festivals? Want to drink and take home too? This is the place for you. Check when the next will be.

Venue:                         8/10
Beer selection:             7.5/10
Beer quality:                 8/10
Atmosphere:                 7.5/10
A good night out:          8/10
Total score:                   39/50, 78%

Dorking Beer Festival

Dorking Beer FestivalA new event from a new player, Surrey Craft Beer, a new ‘beer events’ company. A sparkly new website suggests that they don’t quite understand the craft vs cask issues and are simply going to go for the craft beer = small breweries equation (and like every rule Hog’s Back are the exception to the small). Continue reading